Revisiting Why Don’t I Feel Comfortable in My Own Body? With Courtney Wyckoff

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We’ve all probably heard that we should try and love our bodies, which seems like an impossible standard to reach — especially after motherhood. MommaStrong founder and corrective exercise specialist Courtney Wyckoff thinks a more realistic place to get to is body neutrality. You don’t have to feel good about your body; you should just feel like you have one. Claire and Courtney open up about the struggles they had even acknowledging their bodies, the unexpected ways in which motherhood changed their bodies, and sexuality and motherhood. Plus, Claire tells a story she’s never shared publicly before!

Resources from the show

  • Are you a mom or mommy-to-be? Check out Courtney’s fitness program, MommaStrong for short at-home workouts and routines.
  • Sign up for MommaStrong workshops here.

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Courtney Wyckoff, Claire Bidwell-Smith

Claire Bidwell-Smith  00:09

Hi, I’m Claire Bidwell-Smith. Welcome to New Day. Before we get into today’s episode, I just want to let you know, the conversation you’re about to hear was not what I thought it was going to be. I’ve been thinking a lot about my physical body lately, and then all the ways motherhood has shaped it. From giving birth again at 40, to redefining my sensual self after divorce, I just wanted to sit down with another mom who gets it, and who could also get me excited about making time to work out again and share some ad home tips. Honestly, I thought it was just going to be another casual conversation about motherhood and bodies and workout routines. But it wasn’t that at all. We both actually started sharing really raw and intimate things with each other. And I walked away feeling so much validation and gratitude because of it. I even told a story that I’ve never told publicly. Today’s guest is Courtney Wyckoff. She’s a mother of two, a corrective exercise specialist and founder of Momma strong, an online fitness program to teach women how to connect and build strength in their bodies after giving birth. But like many women, Courtney’s experienced postpartum depression, divorce, intergenerational trauma, personal trauma, highs, lows, you name it. But she has really great things to say about self-compassion, feeling safe in our bodies, and getting back to the parts of ourselves that mean the most. Like I said earlier, I was not expecting our conversation to turn out like this, but I’m so glad it did. And I hope you enjoy it.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  01:44

Hi, Courtney. Well, I’m so excited to talk to you today. I start every episode by asking my guests, how are you doing? But how are you actually doing today?

Courtney Wyckoff  01:54

I know you asked this of all your guests, because I’ve heard you ask this. And I like to credit you with making me more socially awkward. Because now when people ask me, I’m like, but how are you really? Most people are like, what? So to answer your question, I feel weathered, like And the best way to describe that, I think is like the congruence see, and the goodness and sometimes the joy. I think sometimes the self-confidence I feel from showing up in my life, even when it’s what it is. It doesn’t erase like the effects of the elements. You know, it’s like if you’re at a train station every day going somewhere you want to go. It’s like, you’re still going to be affected by the weather.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  02:44

Subject to, the weather, yeah.

Courtney Wyckoff  02:46

And it’s been harsh, right? The elements have been harsh for the last 2-3 years.,

Claire Bidwell-Smith  02:53

Yeah, or depending on how long you’ve had kids. The elements have been harsh. That’s right, exactly. Let’s talk about I don’t know, let’s start with like motherhood, tell us a little bit about what the kind of work you do is and like, you know why we’re talking about motherhood and body image and all that good stuff.

Courtney Wyckoff  03:11

So I’m the founder of Momma strong. And it’ll be weirdly oddly, I can’t believe this 10 years old in May. It’s gone through a lot of different kinds of rebirths and almost deaths. And it’s been a crazy adventure. But I started it out of my own frustration, and out of really, a really dark place, like a very dark place after the birth of my second child. And I had been a Pilates teacher before that. Prior to being a Pilates teacher, I had been a dancer, which is kind of a very typical ballerinas story, you go into Pilates, and then you know, and get scooped up by the Pilates world. And, you know, I was kind of a top Pilates teacher here in town. And yet, you know, even though I was helping people with their back pain, helping people heal their bodies, I was in an excruciating amount of pain. And I was at a place too, where people would look at me even after, you know, four or five months after the birth of my second child, maybe like, are you pregnant again? Like my belly was not working.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  04:14

That’s the question, right? Don’t you love that one?

Courtney Wyckoff  04:16

And you’re like, then you just get filled with this, like, hiding, this hiding in the shame and then like, it’s just it’s this terrible feeling. But I think along with that I was dealing with postpartum depression; I was needing to extract myself from an unhealthy marriage that was not safe for me any longer. And I think the pit of that, like the depths of that caused me to just say, what is going on in my body, like what is happening here that isn’t being fixed by what I know. Maybe it’s not my fault, which felt like a big, felt like a big lightning moment for me just coming from the ballet world in the fitness world where we’re taught. If it’s not working, then clearly you’re wrong, not the container. And so I just started challenging the container. And I really think it was to get me focused on something else. So I started researching how and why, you know, forward flexion is not great for our bodies, how maybe as people who birth and raise kids, we spend so much time already flex forward that maybe some of this pull forward was actually causing some of my pain, and some of this broken belly stuff. And, you know, discovered what I know today. So then I started Mommastrong, and started doing little videos for clients and myself and started feeling better. And that feeling better did something more powerful than I expected, which is like, I think it settled me into my nervous system. It’s like animals in the wild when they’re feeling scared, and they’re pulled into the fetal position. Something happened that pulled me out of that fetal position, and allowed me to tackle some of these bigger, scarier things in my life, like leaving my marriage getting sober, like a lot of things kind of fell into place from there. So yeah, motherhood really ripped it open, though, because I’m not, I don’t love the baby period. I don’t love. I really struggle with that piece. And we’ve postpartum depression. And so yeah, this just became part of that.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  06:19

Yeah, that piece that you said about, it’s not your fault. And kind of coming around to that moment, I think is really, really important. Even not coming from the dance background, or that kind of world. I think so many of us internalize that we’re doing something wrong, you know, and giving yourself that minute to say, wait a minute, maybe I’m not, you know, and giving yourself that compassion and forgiveness. And starting from that point, I think is where we can begin a lot of healing journeys. Did you feel at all prepared for motherhood and like, all of that stuff that you were gonna go through? I mean, we hear about motherhood, and everybody makes the jokes about how you’re never going to sleep again, and blah, blah, blah. But I know, I was not prepared for what my body was gonna go through, my hormones, my sense of identity and my sense of self as a working mom, a wife, even. What was that like for you?

Courtney Wyckoff  07:14

Oh, my gosh, this, like hits a place in me that I feel. It’s so intense, because it’s been so long, right? It’s like 15, 10, and 3, I’ve been able to experience it in so many different places. And going back to age 24, when I had my first it’s like, I was not prepared at all. I remember hanging out with friends who had kids and watching them feed their kids like microwave meals and being like,

Claire Bidwell-Smith  07:39

Oh, the judgment we had, right? Before kids.

Courtney Wyckoff  07:41

Like, you have enough money to buy vegetables, like, why are you? And no, I totally, you know, I’m like, my kid eats white food and all the way through. But outside of that, like, no, I was not prepared at all, I didn’t understand what was going to happen to my body. My first child was the first baby I ever held. I didn’t know that when you give birth, you walk out still pregnant, like you still physically are pregnant for a good period of time. And I didn’t know that. So I walked out thinking like, Something’s very wrong with me, this is not what I’ve been told happens, this part of motherhood has been hidden. And so much of motherhood for me was so invisible, partly because I think my own mother was fairly invisible. You know, the kids getting sick. Trying to work, dealing with the shift in my value, you know, coming from a background in ballet and having been objectified my entire life. Suddenly, it was like, well, what value do you have now that you’re not this thing that we want to celebrate on stage, and those things just really felt pretty crushing to me and I was 24, I wasn’t even cooked as a person. I didn’t even know what I was going to do. And I didn’t understand that. What motherhood does is removes a lot of your autonomy, which in some ways can be a powerful experience.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  09:08

It’s very humbling. I think there’s some, there’s a good side to it. I was shocked and still in shock, sometimes by mom culture, you know, like the pressure that I suddenly felt from all these other women around me and I, and just this constant feeling of like, how the fuck did they all learn how to do this stuff? Like they had excel spreadsheets for preschools, and like, just knew all these things that I was like, no one, I didn’t know I was supposed to do all this and I still don’t know how to figure it out. And the pressure and the kind of social pressure though of mom culture and how moms look and how they act and those who don’t work, and those who do and like that is always kind of been a stress point for me.

Courtney Wyckoff  09:47

Totally. Me too. I feel that all the time. And I still like the other night I was trying to get my kid to bed. It was like 10:30 She’s three I’m like, That’s not part of the, that’s not on my list of what to do here. It just I feel like I missed the memo on so many of those things about how to do this well, and how to be structured and how to show up at the different meetings and things like that, and how to take care of myself really, how to do this and have a little bit of reserve at the end of the day.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  10:17

You’ve got it all figured out, right? Just like me. What did postpartum look like for you? You didn’t have it with your first? It happened with your second?

Courtney Wyckoff  10:27

I had postpartum depression with all of them. Okay. And for me, the experience is that it creeps in over a little bit of time, it doesn’t necessarily happen right off the bat. So you go through this period of time where you’re like, it’s not gonna happen this time. And then for me, right around six weeks, it’s just sweeps in and having experienced anxiety, depression, outside of that, postpartum depression feels significantly different. In that there’s this polarization that happens where I’m like, okay, I’m supposed to be so present. And so here, and yet at the same time, I feel a profound sense of meaninglessness, like, that piece feels really hard, and there’s nothing to be done about it. It’s just lingers and stays, and it’s not emotional. It’s like something going on inside my body, inside my spirit that I can’t really identify that, for me feels felt really big, and a feeling I’ll never ever forget, I think why I probably used was just to get, like, I think I wanted to feel like I was disappearing, but also living at the same time, I wanted to feel a pulse of something but then also not exist, I didn’t want to feel it.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  11:45

That must have been really scary. What do you know about it now that you didn’t then or like, was there a way that you were able to prepare for it with your third birth in a way that you didn’t for the first two.

Courtney Wyckoff  11:56

This is the hard part of my story, which is that I was in a second marriage with a third and really believed that this was going to be a very different experience for me. And so when I began to discover very similar things happening, I wasn’t prepared, I was kind of like in a euphoric place. And maybe that’s what happens when we give birth and we decide we’re going to take on raising a child, we just kind of erase the things that were hard so that we do it again. And I think I did that.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  12:29

Biological thing.

Courtney Wyckoff  12:32

Yeah, so I was not prepared, I did kind of put together a bit of a contract beforehand with a therapist, like if this were to happen if this happens. And I wish I could say that that was profoundly effective. But it just wasn’t, because when you’re in it, you’re not going to use all those tools, a lot of times that you’ve put in place, it’s just a very hard thing. But I got through it, I stayed sober through it. And I made a lot of really good decisions for myself as I went through it. So maybe that’s progress. And I think related to what I do in the world, I really leaned in on movement as a way to have a tool that I could use at any point, even when I was feeling terrible. That has always been something that brings me back to a little bit more centeredness and knowing and feeling a little bit more alive and usually a little goofy. Like if I can get to a funny place, I feel a little bit better.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  13:23

What does that look like?

Courtney Wyckoff  13:25

Ah, well, because I show up basically every day in, you know, the state of my life as it is I’m very used to kind of being on screen exactly as I am. So the way it looks everyday like the other day, Wyatt my three year old was she’s potty training and so she was telling me she had peed. She had gone potty and I said, oh, where and she was like, I this is all on camera while I’m doing a workout. And she was like, yeah, I peed in a hole in the floor. And I’m like and then she came into the workout would mean she didn’t have any pants on. So I then had to spend two hours post production, putting like a traveling modesty patch on her butt. Like stuff like that. It’s like every day, there’s something that helps me remember that what I’m going through is often temporary. And that, you know, there’s a place inside of me to find lightness, even when stuff feels so heavy. And I don’t know why movement does that. I mean, I’m sure prefrontal cortex I’m sure there’s all this incredible neurochemical stuff happening. But as soon as I can get not so serious, then I have access to other tools. I have a place where I can get creative. I can call a friend; I can think about other things.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  14:48

No, that’s amazing. I think that’s something we all really need. What are you hearing from, like the moms you’re working with? And the people who are showing up to your workouts? Like, what are they going through? What are they needing? And I mean, they must really relate to how real you are. And yeah, kids scrambling around while you’re doing things.

Courtney Wyckoff  15:29

And yeah, I think, I think I’m very validating to people. And I think what I’ve seen, they’re very validating to me. And what I’ve noticed about this demographic that comes to mama strong is, especially over the last 10 years that we’re in a very new spot, we are in a place of total paralysis, you know, I think at the beginning of the pandemic, people were like, kind of gung ho and like, Okay, I’m going to get everything organized, we’re going to make this good. And then we went into..

Claire Bidwell-Smith  15:56

I’m going to know how make bread, and we’re going to do a garden, and I’m going to do the ABS challenge, we had really high hopes for ourselves.

Courtney Wyckoff  16:03

It was like, euphoric, and then we went into like, the languishing, which was like, I could tell people were trying really hard and just feeling really defeated. And now, it’s like a new phase where people are paralyzed, where we know that there’s a new step forward. For us with self-care, we don’t want to go back to the way we’ve been doing it before. We don’t want to be our own moms, we don’t want to, we just want to do it differently. But we have no idea how to get there. Because we’re afraid something’s gonna happen. We don’t know how to emerge into the world anymore. We don’t even know how to get connected to our own bodies, we don’t want to see all that we’ve neglected over the past three years, we just don’t want to connect to that we want to keep moving forward. But I think the next step is everybody knows, okay, I’m gonna have to step back into my body, I’m gonna have to catch up and kind of retrieve a lot of things that I lost, and we feel paralyzed. So yeah, I’ve been saying that our demographic is broken, right now is paralyzed, and is going to need a lot of help figuring out what that next right step is?

Claire Bidwell-Smith  17:17

Yeah. What does it look like to step back into our bodies, I’ll tell you, like, I’ve always really struggled with just being in my body, you know, both of my parents got sick when I was a teenager. And it was this kind of immediate reaction that I recoiled from my own body, watching them deteriorate and struggle with cancer and go through all these treatments. And it took me until my late 20s, to like, get on a yoga mat. And when I did, I would just cry, because it was so hard and scary for me to just even acknowledge my body, I had spent so much time trying to get away from it. And it was healing, but really painful for me to start that process. And I still avoid it. What does that look like for you or for people you work with?

Courtney Wyckoff  18:00

I don’t know if this is for everybody. But for me, I come from a background of pretty significant into intergenerational trauma. So I was modeled how to not be in my body, how to like show up, but not really be there. And then I think as it goes, for so many of us, I then repeated a lot of those traumas in my own life and have experienced sexual assault and sexual abuse and so many things that so many women deal with. So I feel like I am an expert in checking out, but being highly functional while doing it. And people assume like if you’re checked out of your body, you’re just not going to function. But I find I regulate even better when I’m not in my body. So it is a struggle. And I have to do rituals almost in order to invite myself back in because I can feel it, I can be like, I know when I’m not there. It’s actually more exhausting. Even though my brain tells me it’s less exhausting to be floating out of your body. And so things like doing daily exercise, just thinking, Okay, I’m here on this mat. And although my goal and my hope is that I changed my life, and I do these extraordinary things for my health by working out, I have to shift the goal way down and just say, okay, here on this mat today, I’m simply going to feel my feet on the ground, I’m just going to take a pause. Instead of sending that text or that email. I’m going to use this as a moment, I’m going to feel my breath, I’m going to get some blood flow, I’m going to punch out all that I take in and so I level the goal down to something that fits the amount of time that I’m spending on the mat. And when I do that, some sort of humanity just comes from rushing in that’s like, I don’t need the big stuff. I just want to feel safe in my body. And I don’t I think that’s a feeling I have very often. And I think that’s wherever we come from, I don’t know a lot of women who feel very safe in their bodies for variety of reasons. So getting that goal way down low gives me an opportunity to start at that very base level of safety, like, okay, I know that I can accomplish feet on the ground, I can feel my foot on the ground today. And when I feel that, then I have proof that the showing up was worth it. And then I can do it again.

Courtney Wyckoff  18:00

Wow, that’s amazing. Yeah. That sounds so good. It makes me want to cry. Like I just know, if I were to even just lay down on a mat. And let myself feel myself in my body, it will make me cry, you know, and that is testament to how little I do it. And how much I need to do it. Totally. But yeah, but this idea about feeling safe in our bodies, too. And I think some of that even extends, you know, the big stuff like trauma, of course, but then little stuff, just like body image, you know, letting myself feel okay, in the body that I currently have. Why is that so hard?

Courtney Wyckoff  21:05

Oh, my gosh, you know, I’ve just recently had to come to terms with this, because I think I was lying to myself that I was okay with my body. Because I show up in the world as something that people will often say, oh, you know, you look that way, blah, blah, you’re thin, you’re muscular, whatever. But I don’t feel great in my body. It’s so different. My body is so different than it was when I was dancing, I most of the time, because of some of the trauma I’ve went through, I feel ugly, I feel not attractive, I feel all the things that so many of us feel. And for me, body image has to come down to body neutrality. So like, I don’t even need to feel good about my body. I just want to feel like I have […] And if it’s having a bad day, it’s having a bad day. But that neutrality feels really essential and really difficult. I don’t know how to get there. And it starts with me being just very honest, that I don’t feel great about myself, I hide myself a lot of times, I don’t always feed myself not because I’m trying to change my body. But just because I don’t feel good in it. I don’t know how to respond to hunger and things like that. But when I get to that neutrality place that says, Okay, you have a body, it’s here to do these things in the world, it’s okay that it has a bad day, it’s okay that it has a good day, it’s certainly not going to be a straight path. That for me feels more doable. So I don’t even try to have a positive body image. But I do try to have like an anchored place into what it means to own a body, be an ownership of.

Courtney Wyckoff  21:34

What do you think, pleasure and sexuality look like for moms?

Courtney Wyckoff  23:26

Glad you asked the question. You know, I, I wonder this this is I wonder about this, I don’t have the answer to it, because it wasn’t modeled to me. And because I haven’t experienced it in my own body. I think a few times I have; I can say I’ll just be totally transparent. I’ve had one experience in my life with a person after my first divorce where he just touched he like, just put his hands on my body. And I think he acknowledged that this person comes to the table with a lot of trauma in this area, in just the act of touch. And I think that I keep coming back to that where touches happening without any expectations of anything else first. And as mom’s if you think about it, were so touched out. We’re so in that like responding to needs and bids all the time, that if something doesn’t genuinely come across as hear for me entirely, then my I’m going to end up performing, I’m going to end up feeling resentful or being in performance mode, which is just disassociating. Right? And so, my view looking forward as I head back into that world, which I have not yet is going to be like really demanding that I am being held and touched in a way that doesn’t have any further expectation and that understands the bids that are being thrown my way all day long and that this is not another bid. Yeah, I think that’s I think that’s that. And I think it changes for women as we get older, our ideas of sexuality expand quite a bit and being able to explore that safely, I think is something we’re all looking towards, I think people think we get like old and crotchety and limited as we get older. But every woman I know who’s experiencing a good part of their life here is expanding, like your idea of what they want is really getting bigger rather than smaller.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  25:34

Yeah, that’s, that’s a good way to put it was expensive for me too. I remember, when I went through my divorce, I just, you know, I hadn’t anticipated getting divorced. And so suddenly, here I was, in my, my youngest was only one when we got divorced. And I was like, my body was just, I hadn’t ever thought about being with someone else. And having this kind of mom body, right? And one of the first guys that I slept with, after my husband and I split, I had stopped nursing my daughter months before, but for some reason, while we were having sex, I started leaking breast milk, everywhere, and I was so humiliated, but it was actually ended up being a really healing experience, because he was totally fine with it. He was really, like, cool and kind about it. And it was like, fine, and it was not a thing. And that was the moment I was like, Okay, I am stepping into, I’m owning this mom body that I have. And I’m just going to, you know, embrace the joy and the pleasure that that comes with it. And it was a really cool moment. It was ridiculous. And like, but very cool.

Courtney Wyckoff  26:42

I remember mine was the boobs in particular, right? Because we go into, like, you know, relationships before that, like you don’t I mean, you don’t worry about like your boobs sliding off right side of your body. You know, it’s like, I remember looking down at one point and being like, this is different. This is a different experience with my body.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  27:01

Yeah, but I think that idea of, you know, becoming more expansive, and what sexuality is, what pleasure is, what it means to be touched, and finding the right people to do that with is important. I started limiting my dating searches to only dads, because that was like, they’re gonna be kinder about the mom bod. And they were, you know, they’ve got the dad bod, it was great. What do you like? What do you have to say to women who I have a client, I was just talking to recently who’s contemplating having a second kid and still hasn’t lost the weight from the first one. And is just, like, can’t bear the thought of going through it, again, really wants a second kid, but is so you know, upset about the idea of going through this whole physical experience and having to go through the weight loss again, that she still hasn’t gotten off. And, you know, it breaks my heart to hear those stories. I relate to it, but I also like, why are we doing this to ourselves.

Courtney Wyckoff  28:01

My God. Right. That’s the motherhood, the visibility of motherhood that I think is so important. When I think a lot of people who find their way to Mommastrong are trying to heal from some type of birth trauma or that dysmorphia after birth and trying to be kind to themselves and find their way back to an acceptance and move forward and possibly have more kids or you know, but I will say that for some people, I’ve seen them, forcing themselves through having another kid, or following through that without listening to what their body is saying. And the pressure for us to be okay with the changes is almost more debilitating than the actual changes like that, to me felt like, oh, I should be not just healthy, going through pregnancy, whatever, but I should I if I’m really evolved, I’m going to be totally okay, with the fact that my body is different, I don’t feel great about it. And that felt worse than just not being okay with my body. So I think for people who come to the table like that, I think it’s first just validating that they don’t want their body to change again, like that and being okay with it. And then going from there. There’s so many other options for having children biological or not biological, that are equally fulfilling. If your body is really saying like, no hard line no. And I think it starts there. That’s what I try to do now is when my body puts up a fierce no, I’ve stopped trying to negotiate that line, even if it’s not rational, and even if I know it needs to change and it needs some growth, because I haven’t listened to it for so long. It’s so loud and so fierce and so irrational sometimes that I just, I just have to say, okay, okay, there’s your no, and I’m not going to do anything until I feel that shift until I genuinely feel consent from my body to do those things. I try not to move forward.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  30:11

What’s an example of your body’s saying a hard note? Like I don’t listen to my body at all. So I don’t even know what it would sound like and what it would say no about.

Courtney Wyckoff  30:18

Unfortunately, I think and I learned this in getting sober. I think most of us don’t really listen to the nose until they’re so loud. And some people hit a low bottom, some people hit a high bottom, mine was very, very low. And so I understand that the way I change is usually through a significant amount of pain or a bottom and I, I’m not afraid of it anymore. I don’t want to experience the bottom my experience before with alcoholism, but when it comes to listening to my body, like just recently, I pushing myself way too hard in life with my kid been sick, and I was having to move and I was dealing with a lot of other stuff. And my kid got the flu. She was in the ER, it was terrible. I ended up catching it. And God, I had to move the next week and I didn’t list I didn’t feel my body. I don’t know if you relate to this, you probably do from what you’re saying. I didn’t even feel the pain. I was like, I didn’t even feel the sickness. I knew how sick I was. I could barely talk or breathe. Well, long story short, I ended up developing pneumonia. And I had to like really take a step back and go wow, that was a gigantic no from my body. And I don’t need a louder one. So the way I listened to it now is by saying like hearing those things.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  31:40

Not having to get that far, not having to get pneumonia.

Courtney Wyckoff  31:43

Not having to get pneumonia, and I think we get the whispers so early on. But it’s okay if it takes a minute. Okay, it’s what we all do, you know?

Claire Bidwell-Smith  31:52

Yeah, that’s a good reminder. I ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. Like, what was it five years ago? Same thing I had just been pushing, pushing, pushing and not listening. Yeah, I guess I’m still not listening. So okay, for someone like me, I was doing great. Last summer, I was going to Pilates like three or four days a week, I was feeling so good and strong. And like, you know, not losing any weight. But I was just feeling strong and healthy and really good. And then I got saddled with a ton of work. I took on some book contracts and work and I have not exercised now in I think this year. Yeah, probably if I’m being honest. And you know, I think I have this idea that either I’m going to Pilates three days a week, or I’m not exercising at all, and I and I think what you’re doing is, is giving us a different idea, like no, we can have smaller workouts that, you know, you don’t have to be going overboard with Pilates, to be incorporating this into your life, like give me some advice or give all of us.

Courtney Wyckoff  32:53

So I’m not a natural born show or upper like I am not going to be the person who clicks play and does something on my own. Like you said, I’m very either or, and I need those extremes. It’s just part of how I operate. So the way over the past 10 years that I’ve managed to keep up a daily habit of like 15 minutes is, first off, that’s bewildering to me for being a flake for myself, like that is a shocker to me. But the way it happened was rather accidental. But there is research to back it up that some of my team has discovered. So when you’re doing small amounts on a daily basis, it stops becoming like mount exercise, mount Everest, and it kind of lowers it down a little bit. For me when I have like, even in the space of two days, three days, four days, it’s really hard to start pedaling back up that hill, I want to keep coasting. So even if there’s something that you’re doing every day, that’s like, okay, I’m gonna do four squats, or I’m going to, you know, do a minute of jumping jacks, some sort of non-negotiable that keeps you coasting is much easier to keep going. It’s when we have these bigger goals that require a lot more, let’s face it privilege of time, and autonomy that most of us have, like we don’t have it. And so what can you fit into your daily life in a way that you probably not gonna want to do it? I don’t ever want to do it, but it at least keeps you coasting. Then what I call the begin again, moment is less intense, because basically what you’re doing is when you’re setting yourself up with these big goals, you’re like climbing Mount Everest every day. Or the other image I use is like you’re putting a small apartment on top of your mat. And you’re saying like every time you go to work out you’re having to you know, unpack a small apartment. It’s too much and because you’re saying you’re not going to do that every day you’re going to be like, I’m not that’s way too much effort for How much I’m gonna get back. So it has to equal out. So when I do, you know, five minutes, 15 minutes, and it’s not serious, and it’s like not asking me to be perfect, then I’m more likely to do it again. And when I do it on a daily basis, it’s so much easier to keep going, I hate stopping because I’ll never start. I’ll just never start back up. It’s too big. So the research is the minimum dose effect, which is like, more is not better, you know, doing just enough. And then research shows any exercise is enough exercise. If you’re walking up the stairs or touching your toes, the trends that we have out there that say this is better, it’s just not true. What’s better is the thing that you can do daily-ish. Ish. Yeah, that’s the better thing. And that’s all that matters.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  35:56

I love that. Okay, I’m gonna start doing like 15 minutes today. I mean, that always makes me feel better, right? If I can, like set a timer and be like, anyone can do anything for 15 minutes, I can do anything for 15 minutes, you know, I can I can sit and write a book for six hours yet I can’t do 15 minutes of squats.

Courtney Wyckoff  36:12

Yeah. And be grumpy about it. Like, let yourself have the tantrum coming in, like, let yourself just maybe 10 minutes of it as being like, I hate, fuck this shit, like, and then you do one like stretch? And that’s it for today? You know? Yeah.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  36:29

That’s great. Thank you. Okay, last question. What, you know, you’re raising three kids, what do you want them to know about their bodies going into adolescence and early adulthood that you didn’t know?

Courtney Wyckoff  36:40

Oh, my God. So I want them to understand consent. In the more nuanced subject, I want them to understand that consent can sometimes not it’s a, it’s very nuanced in the sense that as women in particular, we’re really taught that it can be negotiated or that it’s just black or white. I want them to understand in their bodies, like what it feels like when this is a yes. And what it feels like when it’s a no or like, I’m not sure yet, and be able to respond to it and have the confidence to be like, yeah, thanks for the input, I’m gonna get back to you. And that’s what I tell them all the time I tell my 15 year old, like the best response is not yes or no. But like, let me get back to you. And then take a minute and step away. And whether it’s plans or, you know, somebody’s wanting to do something with them that they don’t want to do, or the bigger things of, you know, the safety in their body and how they express themselves like that. Being able to walk off the lot of the used car salesman, like being able to walk off the lot and say, let me make a decision about that purchase, even though your sales pitch is really good. I want them to do that.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  37:59

Yeah, I think our parents generations I don’t think really taught us that. I don’t think that was something I was really thinking about when I was growing up. And that’s really important. Thank you so much, Courtney. This is really fun.

Courtney Wyckoff  38:16

Thank you.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  38:23

Wow, that’s not exactly how I thought our conversation would turn out. I never in a million years that I would share that story about my boobs leaking and hooking up with that guy after my divorce. But here we are. I swear sometimes as moms as women, that’s not one thing. It’s another. And it’s really nice to have conversations like this with people who get it every once in a while. Courtney is such a gem. And before I could even reach out to her again with another Thank you. She reached out to me. And she were the funniest email about how she wasn’t expecting our conversation to turn out the way it did. And that you hoped I was okay with it. All I could think was oh my god, I’m so glad we had that conversation. And I hope you are too. Thanks for joining me that I tell you that new day has moved to three times a week. The best way to keep up with the show is to subscribe on your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode. And submit questions for me to answer on those Monday and Wednesday episodes by emailing me at Or at my online question forum at You can find the link in the show notes. Have a great weekend and see you Monday.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  39:30

NEW DAY is a Lemonada Media Original. The show is produced by Kryssy Pease and Erianna Jiles. Kat Yore is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. Our VP of weekly content is Steve Nelson. And our executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer, and me, Claire Bidwell Smith. NEW DAY is produced in partnership with the Well Being Trust, The Jed Foundation and Education Development Center. Help others find our show by leaving us a rating and writing a review. Follow us at @LemonadaMedia across all social platforms, or find me at Join our Facebook group to connect with me and fellow NEW DAY listeners at You can also get bonus content and behind the scenes material by subscribing to Lemonada Premium on Apple podcasts.  Thanks for listening. See you next week.

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